Why visit

Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

Trekking the Inca Trail is one of the most pop­u­lar bucket-list ex­pe­ri­ences in the world. There are many trails in this re­gion of Peru, but the one most peo­ple re­fer to as the Inca Trail is the Clas­sic Trail. It stretches 43km from Kilo­me­tre 82 to Sun Gate, which was once the gate­way toMachu Pic­chu, and com­monly takes four days.

“Any­one who is rea­son­ably fit can com­plete the four-day Clas­sic Inca Trail,” Phi­lac­tides says. “The big­gest chal­lenge is the al­ti­tude, and we ad­vise trekkers to take it slow so their body can ac­cli­ma­tise.”

The main rea­son peo­ple trek the Inca Trail is to reach Machu Pic­chu, the “lost city” of the In­can civil­i­sa­tion. The com­bi­na­tion of the an­cient ru­ins against the beau­ti­ful moun­tain­top scenery is breath­tak­ing.

Many will com­bine the Inca Trail trip with a visit to Cusco, a colo­nial city around a 75-minute flight from Lima.

You will find great restau­rants, op­por­tu­ni­ties to shop and arche­o­log­i­cal sites close to the vil­lage. A full-day bus trip from Cusco are the vil­lages of Lake Tit­i­caca, where tourists can ex­pe­ri­ence home stays with lo­cal vil­lagers and learn about their way of life.

When to visit

The Inca Trail is open year-round to tourists, ex­cept for Fe­bru­ary, when it closes for main­te­nance. How­ever, the peak trekking con­di­tions are from April to Oc­to­ber when the weather is gen­er­ally dry and the days sunny. The most pop­u­lar months to visit are May and June.

“We have staff who camp out­side the per­mit of­fice the night be­fore the per­mits go on sale,” Phi­lac­tides says. “A team works from 5am to en­sure our clients don’t miss out.

Phi­lac­tides says if you do miss out, there are trails you can do that do not need a per­mit. “We ac­tu­ally get some peo­ple who re­quest our Quarry Trail in­stead of the Clas­sic be­cause it’s re­mote and less crowded, you’re un­likely to bump into other tourists, there are arche­o­log­i­cal sites and in­ter­ac­tion with lo­cals along the way.”

When to book

“If you want to visit in May or June, make sure you book be­fore Jan­uary and pro­vide your pass­port num­ber to the tour op­er­a­tor, which they will need to se­cure your per­mit,” Phi­lac­tides says.

It’s best to book your trip about six months in ad­vance, but if you’ve left it late, you may se­cure dis­counts to Peru in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary when Flight Cen­tre holds its South Amer­ica expo.

HIGH TIME: The ru­ins of the Inca city of Machu Pic­chu in the An­des.

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